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ROAD TO THE 2022 CENTENNIAL CUP: OTTAWA JR. SENATORS

A manic sprint to the finish during the regular season set the CCHL champions up for the playoffs and led to a third-straight trip to Canada’s National Junior A Championship

By: Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada

Estevan, SK – With the Omicron variant rearing its ugly head in mid-December and the Central Canada Hockey League joining other Junior A leagues across the country in hitting pause on the regular season, it appeared a full season was out of the question.

Except … nope.

The league’s board of governors was committed to a full 55 games after losing the entire 2020-21 campaign to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting up a very busy final two months of the season.

After going 52 days between games from Dec. 12 to Feb. 2, the Ottawa Jr. Senators played 29 games in 67 days, including 10 sets of back-to-backs and one instance of three games in three nights – in three different arenas.

But the Jr. Senators embraced the opportunity, using the stretch run to prepare themselves for the rigours of playoff hockey.

“We said, ‘This is just like a playoff series. We’re going to play four in seven, maybe five or six in eight or nine days. That’s what the playoffs are going to be all about,’” said Ottawa associate coach and general manager Jamie Mayo. “So, we kind of looked at the schedule as a good preparation tool for what we would see in the playoffs.”

The best team in the CCHL going into the pandemic pause at 21-3-2, the Jr. Senators didn’t miss a beat when the league returned to play, winning their first seven games and cruising to top spot in the CCHL standings with an 11-point cushion on second-place Hawkesbury.

And once the playoffs began, Ottawa discovered the secret to avoiding having to play those “five or six in eight or nine” scenarios – get the series over in four.

It romped past Smiths Falls in four straight (in six days), downed Renfrew in the semifinals in five games (in eight days) and needed the minimum four games (and six days) to sweep Hawkesbury for its third-consecutive CCHL title.

Now it’s off to the Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons; Ottawa is the first team to appear in three National Junior A Championships in a row since its CCHL rivals, the Carleton Place Canadians, did it from 2014 to 2016.

The Jr. Senators just hope not to see the host team in the semifinals – in all three of their previous trips to nationals (2002 in Halifax, 2018 in Chilliwack, 2019 in Brooks), they fell to the hosts in the semis.

Ottawa opens its Centennial Cup schedule against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champions, the Dauphin Kings, on May 20.

HOW THEY GOT TO ESTEVAN

Central Canada Hockey League
Quarterfinal: defeated Smiths Falls 4-0 (6-1, 8-0, 2-1 OT, 6-1)
Semifinal: defeated Renfrew 4-1 (1-3, 2-3 OT, 2-1, 4-2, 4-0)
CCHL championship: defeated Hawkesbury 4-0 (5-4 2OT, 4-3 OT, 4-3, 4-0)

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-OTL): 43-8-4 (1st in CCHL)
Goals for: 225 (1st in CCHL)
Goals against: 132 (2nd in CCHL)
Power play: 50 for 237 (21.1% – 4th in CCHL)
Penalty killing: 201 for 235 (85.5% – 2nd in CCHL)
Longest winning streak: 11 (Nov. 28-Feb. 18)
Top 3 scorers:
• Philippe Jacques – 31G 45A 76P (2nd in CCHL)
• Julian Recine – 25G 47A 72P (4th in CCHL)
• Simon Isabelle – 22G 45A 67P (6th in CCHL)

 

PLAYOFFS

Record: 12-1
Goals for: 53
Goals against: 21
Power play: 13 for 45 (28.9%)
Penalty killing: 50 of 56 (89.3%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Julian Recine – 7G 12A 19P
• Simon Isabelle – 10G 7A 17P
• Philippe Jacques – 5G 9A 14P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2002 – Ottawa Jr. Senators | fourth place | 1-4 | 18GF 23GA
2018 – Ottawa Jr. Senators | fourth place | 2-3 | 14GF 15GA
2019 – Ottawa Jr. Senators | fourth place | 1-4 | 11GF 17GA

COMMITMENTS

Thomas Freel – University of Maine (2022-23)
Simon Isabelle – Rochester Institute of Technology (2022-23)
Philippe Jacques – Rochester Institute of Technology (2022-23)
Bodie Nobes – University of Maine (2023-24)

CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS

Oct. 4 – 4th
Oct. 11 – 1st
Oct. 18 – 8th
Oct. 25 – 3rd
Nov. 1 – 6th
Nov. 8 – 4th
Nov. 15 – 3rd
Nov. 22 – 5th
Nov. 29 – 5th
Dec. 6 – 6th
Dec. 13 – 4th
Dec. 20 – 3rd
Feb. 7 – 3rd
Feb. 14 – 3rd
Feb. 21 – 5th
Feb. 28 – 3rd
March 7 – 6th
March 14 – 4th
March 21 – 4th